Janet Miles, CAP-OM (janetmiles) wrote,
Janet Miles, CAP-OM

Poetry, and a joke I remember reading years ago

In Ysabet's poetry fishbowl yesterday (http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/3121695.html) I left a prompt for "love and laughter."

This prompt was picked up: "From the Clay of Life series comes the free-verse poem 'As One of Your Countrymen.' It uses Hebrew vocabulary about love and charity to explore the relationship between Yossele the golem and Menachem the blacksmith, along with others they meet while traveling."

I've seen a copy of this (prompters get personal copies of the poems written to their prompts), but it came after I'd already made my selection (I put in a chunk to start the display of "The Feast of Saint Valentine," in the Victor and Igor 'verse. If you'd like to see what's already posted, it's at http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/3123540.html , and I'd love to see more of it be sponsored.

Anyway, even though "As One of Your Countrymen" hasn't been posted, the part about commitment reminded me of this story:

Once upon a time, a city mayor decided that all the Jews were to be expelled. The Chief Rabbi called on him, asking that he reconsider his order.

The mayor thought about it, and made a counter-offer. “I will invite a Papal Nuncio to the city, and he will debate with one of the Jews. If the Nuncio wins the debate, the Jews leave; if the Jew wins the debate, you can stay. Oh, and just to make things interesting, the debate must be conducted entirely in sign language, and the Nuncio will decide who won.”

The rabbi was aghast, but agreed to the mayor’s terms. When he returned to the congregation, however, no one was willing to risk taking on a Papal Nuncio in a debate where they couldn’t even talk.

Finally, the janitor spoke up. “I will do this,” he said.

The appointed day arrived.

The Nuncio stated his first position by waving his hand in an arc above his head. The janitor responded by pointing at the ground.

The Nuncio blinked, took a firmer stand, and raised his index finger. The janitor shook three fingers back at him.

The Nuncio blanched, and tried one more time: he took an apple out of his pocket. The janitor thought a moment, and took a piece of bread out of his own pocket.

The Nuncio stood, stunned, then turned to the mayor. “Your Honor,” he cried, “I must admit this man has bested me in the debate. The Jews may remain.”

Later, over dinner, the mayor asked the Nuncio to explain the debate. “Well,” he said, “I began by raising my hand to heaven, to indicate the omnipotence of God. The Jew countered by pointing to the ground, reminding me of the power of Satan. Then I held up one finger, to argue for the unity of God, and the Jew held up three, reminding me of the importance of the Trinity. Finally, when I took out an apple, to demonstrate the heresy that the Earth is round, the Jew brought out bread, admitting that the world is flat. I could only concede to his arguments.”

At the same time, the janitor was being honored by the congregation, who asked him to explain the debate. “It was easy,” he said. “The Catholic swept his hand to say, ‘We will sweep you out of here.’ So I pointed to the ground to say that we were staying. Then he shook his finger at me that I was wrong, and I shook three fingers back at him, three times he was wrong! Then he took out his lunch and I took out mine.”

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